Documento del Mese gennaio 2015

“Where did you come from?”: Queen Margherita and the Fabbrica del Duomo

The document of January 2015

The funeral of 1926 in some archive sources.

On 4th January 1926 the Queen Mother, Margherita di Savoia, died in Bordighera. Until the assassination of the king by Gaetano Bresci on 29th July 1900, she had been the Queen of Italy, wife of Umberto I, whom she had married on 21st April 1868 in the ballroom of the Royal Palace in Turin. From then onwards, Margherita had an important influence on the life of the Italian State. A Catholic and a nationalist, she had strongly supported the Crispi government and had been greatly in favour of the policy of repression of public demonstrations. Despite this, however, the people loved her and she was hugely popular. This was also due to her great ability to communicate with people, and the pizza Margherita is said to have been named after her.

She had close links with the cultural world, and had created around her a circle of men and women of letters, mainly with connections to the Historical Right, which met on the so-called “Queen’s Thursdays” to discuss life, art, politics and literature. Giosué Carducci even dedicated an ode to her, defining her as “courteous to the people”, leading to criticism from those who considered him a true republican. Leading figures in chamber music and artists like Giacomo Favretto and Michele Gordigiani had close contacts with her, founding the myth known as “Margheritismo”. Popularity, consent and fashion. The more unpopular Umberto became, especially after the states of siege declared in Sicily and Lunigiana and after the defeats in Africa, the more the Queen’s popularity grew.

With the advent of Fascism, she sided openly with this new movement that had marched on Rome. She died only a few years later, in January 1926, without seeing what it would turn into. Upon the death of her husband she had to adapt to the role of Queen Mother, making way for her son Vittorio Emanuele III and Elena di Montenegro, who were more open and progressive than the previous monarchs. Although the memory of Bava Beccaris and the cannons was still very much alive in the area of Milan, in February of that same year, the Municipality of Milan and the Provincial Authorities asked permission to commemorate the Queen Mother. One month after her death, a catafalque was placed in the Duomo – which can still be seen in drawings and photographs of the time - for a solemn funeral service. The ranks of the Cathedral Singers were swelled with a large number of children from the Pio Istituto pei figli della provvidenza [Catholic school] and over 70,000 lire were spent on workers, custodians and lighting. 

Luigi Mangiagalli, Mayor of Milan and first rector of the University, personally thanked Veneranda Fabbrica for its precious collaboration.